A young family moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.
Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story—of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.
House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski is an extraordinary piece of literature that leaves a lasting impact on its readers.
The reader is introduced to different voices in the book.
- Zampanò – He is a blind man, obsessed with his academic study of a film called The Navidson Record. It is the story of a young family who moved into a new home, which is somehow larger on the inside than on the outside. After some time, they discover a new room, dark as coal, with endless hallways, rooms that appear and disappear, and a mysterious force that seems to be lurking within the walls. Will Navidson along with a team of other people goes into the hallway, trying to find out something, anything that would settle their curious minds.
- Johnny Truant – He is a tattoo parlour employee and is introduced to the apartment of the recently deceased Zampanò by his friend. On reaching the apartment he is taken away by all the research and analysis about The Navidson Record. As Johnny attempts to read through the content, he too finds himself obsessed with the subject and decides to create a decent manuscript out of it.
What follows is a book built upon multiple perspectives: Zampanò’s study of The Navidson Record, Johnny’s personal story in the footnote as he progresses through the manuscript, Editor’s notes. Moreover, at places, we find transcripts of other characters of The Navidson Record. It would not be a misstatement to say that the house itself is an important character in the book.
Along with the weird architecture of the house, the reader quickly realizes that they are in for an unconventional reading experience.
What stands out the most about House of Leaves is the writing style. Danielewski’s writing is simple, yet promising. He does not try to be poetic or flowery in his language, but he is still able to create a sense of urgency and tension that keeps the reader engaged throughout the book. The use of various writing techniques such as footnotes, different fonts, and even upside-down text adds to the unique reading experience.
From the first page, House of Leaves hooks the reader with its eerie tone and mysterious storytelling. The very first page sets the stage for what is to come, warning readers that they are about to embark on a journey that is not for the faint of heart. The book is scary, but it is not a typical horror story. Instead, it plays with the reader’s mind, using psychological tricks to make them question what is real and what is not.
Every aspect of the book, including the cover design, makes sense in the context of the story. The book’s physical appearance, with its unusual font sizes, colors, and page layouts, is not just for show but is an essential part of the reading experience. Danielewski uses these elements to create a sense of chaos and disorientation, which aligns with the story’s theme.
House of Leaves is not a book that can be easily categorized. It has elements of horror, but it is also a love story, a psychological thriller, and a commentary on the human psyche. The story is layered, and it is up to the reader to make their own interpretation of what is happening.
In conclusion, House of Leaves is a unique and unforgettable book that aligns with grand expectations. Danielewski’s writing style, use of unconventional techniques, and layered storytelling make for an enthralling read. The book is not for everyone. However, for those who are willing to take on the challenge, House of Leaves is a rewarding experience that will stay with them long after they have finished reading.